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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ OwlView Options:  |  |  |   

Owls on Ancient Coins

Owls are depicted on many different ancient coin types but the most prolific types are the coins of ancient Athens. The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" (but in Greek of course) and "girls" (referring to Athena on the obverse, also in Greek). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" of Athens are still very popular. For collectors, they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SL86746. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, NGC XF, strike 4/5, surface 4/5 (4280036-004), weight 17.14 g, maximum diameter 23.3 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1480.00 (1258.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86507. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered on a tight flan, nice toning, banker's marks, light marks, die wear and cracks, small edge cracks, weight 17.07 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $900.00 (765.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86603. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered on a tight flan, no test cuts, banker's marks, weight 17.171 g, maximum diameter 24.1 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $900.00 (765.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece 133 - 132 B.C. "New Style" Silver Tetradrachm

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"New style" tetradrachms were struck by Athens as a semi-autonomous city under Roman rule. Hellenic style replaces the archaic "old-style." The owl is surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols. The letter on the amphora may indicate the month of production. Letters below may indicate the source of the silver.
SH82664. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 377 var. (same obv. die; unlisted month/control letters combination), HGC 4 1602, SNG Cop -, BMC Attica -, aEF, beautiful Hellenistic Athena, attractive rose toning with a few darker spots, light marks, weight 16.811 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, Athens mint, 133 - 132 B.C.; obverse Head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing necklace, pendent earring, and triple-crested Attic helmet with protomes of four horses above visor, a Pegasos in flight rightward above raised earpiece, and a curvilinear ornament on shell; reverse Owl standing half right on amphora, head facing, A−ΘE (Athens) flanking head, winged kerykeion to left, ΠOΛY−XAPM / NIKOΓ / AIAN/TI (Polycharm(os), Nikog(enes), and Aianti-, magistrates) in five lines, B on amphora, ∆I below, all within wreath; ex CNG Triton XIV (4 Jan 2011), lot 216; $900.00 (765.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 100 - 99 B.C., New Style Silver Tetradrachm

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The owl is surrounded by magistrates' names and symbols. The amphora is marked with a letter that may indicate the month of production. Letters in the exergue may indicate the source of the silver used in production.
SL35724. Silver tetradrachm, Thompson 861d; cf. Svoronos Athens pl. 61, 1 (same magistrates); SNG Munchen 215 (same); HGC 4 1635; magistrates Dositheos, Charias, and Dion, NGC Choice VF, strike 4/5, surface 2/5, smoothing (2490379-008), weight 15.913 g, maximum diameter 28.2 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, 100 - 99 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with curvilinear ornament on the shell, griffin (or Pegasus?) flying right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl stands right on amphora, A−ΘE divided by owl's head, above magistrates names ∆Ω−ΣI/ΘEO−Σ / XAP/IAΣ / ∆IO in five divided lines across field; control symbol in right field: Tyche standing half left, long scepter vertical in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; ∆ on amphora, AΠ below; NGC certified (slabbed); $800.00 (680.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Tetradrachm

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86606. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, tight flan, light toning, edge cracks, no test cuts, weight 17.139 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $720.00 (612.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, 353 - c. 340 B.C., Pi-Style III Tetradrachm

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The name Pi-style refers to the floral helmet ornament on the obverse which resembles the Greek letter pi (P) bisected by a long central tendril.
SH86206. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; SNG Delepierre 1479; Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, Choice VF, well centered on a tight flan typical of the type, toned, bumps and marks, weight 17.153 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - c. 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll, pellet in ear; reverse owl standing right, head facing, pellet over eyes, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $640.00 (544.00)


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 454 - 404 B.C., Old Style Drachm

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Struck during Athens' Golden Age, a time when great thinkers, writers, and artists flourished in the city. Herodotus, the father of history, lived and wrote in Athens. Socrates, the father of philosophy, taught in the marketplace. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, practiced there. The sculptor Phidias created his great works for the Parthenon on the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Democritus envisioned an atomic universe. Aeschylus, Euripedes, Aristophanes, and Sophocles wrote their famous plays and Pindar his Odes. This legacy would continue as, later, Plato would found his Academy outside the walls of Athens in 385 B.C. and, later, Aristotle would found his Lyceum in the city center.
GS86581. Silver drachm, SNG Cop 41; Kroll 10; Dewing 1601; Svoronos pl. 11, 20; HGC 4 1631, VF, well centered and struck, die wear, porosity, weight 4.153 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves & floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair across forehead in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, to left olive sprig and crescent, all within incuse square, AΘE downward on right; scarcer denomination; $450.00 (382.50)


Amisos (as Peiraeos), Pontos, c. 435 - 370 B.C.

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Amisos was settled c. 760 - 750 B.C. by people from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. Amisos came under the rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, and then the Kingdom of Pontus. The Romans took control in 47 B.C. and Amisos remained within the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome. In 1200, the city was captured by the Seljuks. Amisos today is Samsun, a city of about half a million people on the north coast of Turkey.
SH86577. Silver siglos, SNG BM 1059; SNG Stancomb 660; SNG Cop 122; Rec Gn p. 46, 1; McClean 7351; HGC 7 229; SNGvA -; BMC Pontus -, gVF, beautiful style, nice toning, tight flan, some die wear, light bumps and scratches, weight 5.516 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 180o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 435 - 370 B.C.; obverse draped bust of Hera-Tyche right, hair rolled, wearing a turreted stephane ornamented with palmettes and annulets, triple-drop earrings and pearl necklace; reverse owl standing facing on shield, head facing, wings spread open, caduceus upper left, sword in sheath upper right, AΦ-PO (magistrate Aphro...) divided across field below wings, ΠEIPA in exergue; $380.00 (323.00)


Amisos (as Peiraeos), Pontos, c. 435 - 370 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
Amisos was settled c. 760 - 750 B.C. by people from Miletus, who established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. Amisos came under the rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire, and then the Kingdom of Pontus. The Romans took control in 47 B.C. and Amisos remained within the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome. In 1200, the city was captured by the Seljuks. Amisos today is Samsun, a city of about half a million people on the north coast of Turkey.
GS86613. Silver siglos, SNG BM 1059; SNG Stancomb 660; SNG Cop 122; Rec Gen p. 46, 1; McClean 7351; HGC 7 229; SNGvA -; BMC Pontus -, VF, attractive style, light toning, bumps and scratches, obverse off center but not too detracting, weight 5.593 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 45o, Amisos (Samsun, Turkey) mint, c. 435 - 370 B.C.; obverse draped bust of Hera-Tyche right, hair rolled, wearing a turreted stephane ornamented with palmettes and annulets, triple-drop earrings and pearl necklace; reverse owl standing facing on shield, head facing, wings spread open, caduceus upper left, sword in sheath upper right, AΦ-PO (magistrate Aphro...) divided across field below wings, ΠEIPA in exergue; $380.00 (323.00)




  



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